Whats your State of Mind?

As the State of Mind charity prepares to take over the Super League for an entire round, Andrew Riley went along to the AJ Bell stadium in Salford to see what the charity does and how you can be part of a world record attempt this coming Wednesday…

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Stop play acting! You are killing the sport.


When I failed to get RFL accreditation for the 2018 season, I decided that a season off to concentrate on my new full time job wasn’t a bad thing. After all, I had spent most of the last year concentrating on my final year at university and hadn’t fulfilled the RFL requirement for published pieces (Although I do run my own website with interviews and match reports…) to gain that fabled plastic pass.

It would give me chance to sit and watch the sport as a fan again, rather than with a critical journalistic eye.

Sadly, that is almost impossible.

The game is being turned on its head as we watch. Players are doing their best to milk penalties, slow the ruck, con match officials and generally stop the game being the fast, free flowing sport I grew up watching.

Yes, it has always been thus, but I am seeing more of it than ever.

I’m used to football players acting like they’ve been shot when an opposing player brushes past them, but when RL players are starting to milk penalties in a similar vein, the game needs a shake up.

I honestly believe this is being coached into players, rather than the players themselves deciding to con not only the match officials, but the paying fans as well.

It comes down to coaches telling players they will not stand to see such play acting, rather than actively encouraging it.

There also needs to be better awareness from the match officials of players locking in an opponent to gain an advantage. Perhaps the touch judges could be better placed and make the man in the middle aware when they see something, rather than just wandering up and down the line?

During the Challenge Cup game between Featherstone and Hull FC, it was the touch judge who spotted the knee from Danny Washbrook and he was (harshly in my opinion, given the rest of the game) sent to the sin bin.

Why can’t they take more responsibility for what happens on the field?

The game I love watching appears to be dying a slow death by a thousand cuts, and we’re all partly responsible.

Match officials are too easily conned, players are taking the easy route to gain an advantage, coaches are allowing players and coaching them into how to gain a penalty and journalists and writers of the sport are not castigating players and clubs for all of the above, perhaps for fear of losing access to clubs and players.

Fans?

They should be shaming players for simulating injury, but like fans of any team, they will only see opposing players doing it, not their own.

I wont be bothering to try and join the ranks of the press next season.

I don’t see the point in writing about a sport where players and coaches are only too happy to con the paying public, and get away with it because of a lack of leadership from the sports governing body, because leadership comes from the top.

That means coaches, officials, fans and the RFL themselves needs to get a grip of our sport before it does lose all its credibility.

Rugby League is a tough game.

Lets keep it that way.

 

Can Joshua defend his title? Andrew Riley looks at his opposition

Given the retirement earlier this week of former champion  Wladimir Klitschko, Britains Anthony Joshua has to look elsewhere for a challenge in November. Andrew runs his eye over the two main contenders.

First in line is Cuban fighter Luis Ortiz, who has an impressive record of 23 knockouts from 27 wins, although time may not be on his side, being 38.

The WBA says Joshua and Ortiz have 30 days from 3 August to agree the fight.

He is a former WBA interim heavyweight champion, having held the title from 2015 to 2016. He had won the title in 2014, but this was nullified via no contest when he was stripped of the title due to failing a drug test.

He made his professional debut aged 30, beating Lamar Davis in under 80 seconds of the first round.

Ortiz also signed with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom sports in 2016, believing it was the fastest way to stardom, although this was later shown to be on a fight by fight basis.

It had been reported Ortiz was negotiating to fight current WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder, but with the Joshua fight likely to be a much bigger payday, and for two of the belts, this is unlikely to take place now.

Ortiz spokesperson, Jay Jimenez told Boxingscene: “We are next. We have no problem fighting on that date of November 11th in Las Vegas. Our mandatory takes precedent over Pulev’s and they know that.”

A statement on wbaboxing.com read: “According to the resolution sent on January 11th, 2017, to both parties, it was reported that the winner of the Joshua-Klitschko fight, held on April 29th, 2017, had to face Ortiz after 120 days.

Joshua has also been told he must face IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev before 2 December or risk being stripped of his belt.

However, promoter Eddie Hearn says he has documentation to show that Ortiz is next in line, then Pulev before a possible unification bout with Deontay Wilder. Wilder, who holds the WBC version of the heavyweight title posted the following on Twitter:

However, Hearn told Sky sports news:

“The IBF resolution following the Klitschko fight is a public document for everyone to see: ‘after the rematch there will be no request for a unification considered by the IBF’.

 “Obviously we now have to fight Pulev and Ortiz and it’s going to be a tough balancing act. The Pulev mandatory was called some time ago and we already have signed correspondence that if it’s not Klitschko then Pulev must be next.

“I would say right now the plan is Pulev, Ortiz then if Wilder still has a belt then AJ can relieve him of that next summer.”

“AJ is 100 per cent up for fighting Pulev, 100 per cent up for fighting Ortiz and 100 per cent up for fighting Wilder and he wants to do it in a way to try and capture all belts,” said Hearn.

“It’s going to be difficult but let me tell you this young man fears no one.”

And after all that, on the distant horizon, lurks the ever present former champion Tyson Fury…Who again announced his retirement from the sport.